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tv   CBS Evening News With Katie Couric  CBS  March 21, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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>> couric: tonight, as allied forces pound targets in libya, the u.s. military insists qaddafi is not a target, but the commander in chief makes it clear... >> it is u.s. policy that qaddafi needs to go. >> couric: i'm katie couric. also tonight, another setback in japan. workers again forced to evacuate as smoke pours from crippled nuclear reactors and concerns grow about the safety of japan's food supply. and another a.t.f. agent tells cbs news the agency encouraged gun dealers in this country to sell weapons to mexican drug cartels. captioning sponsored by cbs from cbs news world headquarters in new york, this is the "cbs evening news" with katie couric. >> couric: good evening,
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everyone. for a third straight night, tripoli has come under attack from u.s. and allied forces as they establish a no-fly zone over libya. anti-aircraft fire lit up the sky as moammar qaddafi's army tried to defend against the attack. rebels solidified their control in benghazi and launch and offensive to retake other cities. president obama said today the u.s. will turn over leadership of the operation to other nations within days. the president and british prime minister david cameron said qaddafi must go though they insisted he is not a target of the attacks. but a cruise missile attack last night may have been too close for comfort for the libyan dictator. mark phillips is in tripoli. >> reporter: of all the targets that have been hit in these attacks, this flattened building in the qaddafi compound in tripoli is the one the qaddafi loyalists have complained about most. this is the attack they claim
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was launched to kill him. despite the hundreds of people who have gathered or been gathered around the complex to provide protection. >> families, children, men and women have come from everywhere to stay day and night to protect this location, to protect this location and the rocket hits only 52 to 100 meters away from them. >> reporter: qaddafi himself was probably not in his tent. he hasn't been seen since before the bombing began. his location a secret. his t.v. speeches threatening a long war have been played out over a shot of the monument to the last american attack here in 1986. as nervous libyan gunners have been hosing down sky with anti- aircraft fire for the third night running, those enforcing the u.n. resolution have had to explain that the libyan leader himself is not a target. to the libyans who support moammar qaddafi, though,
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attacking him, they say, only makes him stronger. >> reporter: with the u.s. and others providing an effective air cover for the rebels, the pro-qaddafi forces have fallen back, but the still outgunned and disorganized rebel forces have not been able to mount a significant offensive of their own. mark phillips, cbs news, tripoli. >> reporter: the allied air strikes have allowed rebel forces to maintain control of benghazi. today the rebels set out to retake another city, but this time they were stopped-- at least temporarily. mandy clark was there. >> reporter: the burned out vehicles littered the road, from the rebel-held capital benghazi to the front line of ajdabiya a hub miles away. ahmad jiahani is desperate to
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get back to the embattled city. >> reporter: but this checkpoint is as far as we can go. we're just seven miles from ajdabiya but we're told we can't go further. apparently down the road there are apparently four pro-qaddafi tanks and every time a vehicle goes over the rise they file at it. >> all my life is here, my friends, my family. my business. >> reporter: the city has been under siege for a week. it's moammar qaddafi's gateway to the rebel held side. both sides have fought hard here with control of this city changing hands numerous times. are you going to try again tomorrow to get to ajdabiya? >> reporter: rebels are planning to get there as well, vowing to push all the way to tripoli and
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bring down the government. "we will take down that crazy qaddafi" he says. but jiahani tells us he just wants to see his besieged city finally free. the latest reports we're hearing is that there is fierce fighting going on in ajdabiya at the moment. the front line has been very fluid, moving several miles in a day. katie? >> couric: and, mandy, what's going on right now where you are in benghazi? >> well, the main concern here is pockets of rogue elements loyal to qaddafi that are doing hit-and-run attacks so rebels here have been beefing up security, adding more checkpoints in key locations. >> couric: mandy clark, as always, mandy, thank you so much. meanwhile, house speaker john boehner called on president obama today to make clear exactly what the mission in libya is and how it will be accomplished. david martin reports the president and the military tried to do just that.
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>> reporter: now in its third day, operation odyssey dawn gathered steam as aircraft from more and more countries joined american jets in enforcing a no- fly zone over libya. their mission is limited to stopping qaddafi from attacking his own people, but the commander-in-chief monitoring events while on a state visit to chile wants to stop qaddafi period. >> it is u.s. policy that qaddafi needs to go. >> reporter: force of arms alone may not be able to give the president what he wants. the commander of the operation said it's possible qaddafi could come out of this still in power. >> i could see accomplishing the military mission, which has been assigned to me and the current leader would remain the current leader. is that ideal? i don't think anyone would say that that is ideal. >> reporter: general carter ham insisted he is not out to get qaddafi. >> but i have no mission to
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attack that person and we are not doing so. >> reporter: ham described his mission. launch cruise missile and stealth bombers to destroy his air defenses, enforce a no-fly zone, strike any libyan ground forces that attack civilians starting with benghazi in the east and pushing west toward tripoli. that's what the resolution passed by the u.n. security council calls for. that military operation will almost certainly succeed. but as long as qaddafi remains in tripoli, it may not feel like success. katie? >> couric: david martin at the pentagon, david, thank you. now for the latest on the disaster in japan. ten days after those nuclear reactors were damaged by the earthquake and tsunami, a new setback today in the recovery operation. workers were forced again to evacuate when smoke was spotted coming from two of the reactors. the official death toll from the disaster now totals 8,800, nearly 13,000 are still missing.
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now there are concerns about radiation in japanese pots and in sea water near the plant. bill whitaker has the latest including details about the plant's spotty safety record. >> reporter: it's a sign this crisis is far from under control. ten days after the fukushima plant was knocked out by japan's massive earthquake and tsunami and once again reactor three is spewing smoke a few hours later white smoke from reactor two. it's a mysterious and serious setback, one that prompted workers to evacuate and once again stopped efforts to stabilize the plant. over the weekend, there had been some encouraging signs. plant operators had reconnected electric cables to all six reactors for the first time since the crisis began. and after days of firefighters dousing reactors three and four, trying to cool still dangerous spent fuel rods, the temperature and radiation levels had started to decline. today's smoking reactors have
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engineers baffled. firefighters told the country about going into harm's way with radiation so intense they can only be near the plant 15 minutes to an hour at a time. "i sent my wife a message that i was going to fukushima's nuclear power plant. she replied in a one-line sentence, to become japan's savior." "i'd like to convey my apology and gratitude to the firefighters for helping us battle this invisible enemy," he says. but this has been a troubled plant for years. in a report submitted to japan's nuclear safety agency two weeks before this crisis, plant operator tepko-- the tokyo electric power company-- admitted it failed to make routine inspections of equipment from bolts to motors at the fukushima plant. an investigation by the "wall street journal" found the plant had the highest accident rate of any large nuclear facility in the country. and more workers exposed to
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radiation. today, tepko's vice president expressed regrets for the accident. "we apologize from our heart for the problem and worries we are causing the people in this region," he said. but with setback upon setback, japan needs fewer apologies and more solutions. katie? >> couric: bill whitaker in tokyo, bill, thank you. and now to the worries over contaminated food. the u.s., china, south korea, and india have all stepped up their inspections of food exported by japan. italy has banned them all together. at stake for japan, an export market worth $5 billion a year. here's lucy craft. >> reporter: at this dairy farm here in chih be 20 miles east of tokyo there's a real fear that the cash will soon go out of their cows. though they are 150 miles from the radiation source, dairy officials here are concerned about recent reports of abnormal
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radiation levels detected in milk near fukushima. "since we grow the same food as fukushima" says this a.g. official "we're afraid of being tainted by association." some spinach samples south of fukushima tested more than seven times the illegal allowance of radioactive iodine. sea water near the plant has tested 126 times higher than the legal limit and people are warned not to drink tap water. outside of the 20-mile danger zone, japanese radiation experts say right now their food is safe. this analyst says "there's no reason to worry about eating food from other areas." back in chiba, there's concern. but for now it's business as usual. she says "i'm going ahead and eating it." officials hope that confidence will hold up in the days ahead. lucy craft, cbs news, tokyo. >> couric: the u.s. military is
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playing a major role in the relief efforts, but today the aircraft carrier "george washington" was forced to leave its japanese port over fears of radiation. once again, here's david martin. >> reporter: the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier "george washington" got under way from yokosuka, japan, earlier this morning. not to aid in relief effort bus to save its from radio active contamination. the decision to send the "george washington" to sea even though one reactor is down for repairs, came in response from a shift in the wind which is blowing increased amounts of radioactivity south of tokyo toward the american bases at yokosuka and atsugi. the winds threatened to dump as much radioactivity in the next 24 hours as in the preceding ten days. navy officers decided they could not allow the "george washington" to absorb even low levels of radioactive contamination for the indefinite future. at $4.5 billion, it's one of the
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navy's most valuable ships and the fear is that radiation would be sucked into the ventilation system and leave it contaminated for the rest of its service life. as for the service members left ashore, potassium iodide pills which defend the body from radioactive iodine has been issued to all hands and their families. and tonight, katie, the pentagon is considering ordering the mandatory departure of all american service members and their families from the parts of japan threatened by radiation. >> couric: david martin again. thank you, david. last week we told you about an american exchange teacher missing in japan. we're very sorry to report the body of 24-year-old taylor anderson has been found in a town hit hard by the tsunami. her family says she had stayed at school after the quake to make sure all the children were picked up by their parents. in afghanistan, the u.s. army is bracing for a backlash after the german magazine "der spiegel" published photos today that appeared to show two american
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soldiers posing with the body of an afghan civilian they had killed. the army has apologized calling the images "repugnant." the two soldiers are among five americans facing military trials in the death of afghan civilians. and still ahead here on the "cbs evening news," distant cities united by tragedy and friendship. steve hartman's "assignment america." and the a.t.f. allegedly encouraging u.s. gun sales to mexican drug traffickers. now there's evidence other agencies knew about it.
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>> couric: carlos pasqual resigned over the weekend, ending a stormy tenure as u.s. ambassador to mexico. diplomatic sources say the last straw was the scandal sharyl attkisson exposed on this broadcast, an a.t.f. program that allegedly let thousands of weapons purchased in the u.s. reach drug cartels in mexico. tonight as sharyl reports, another a.t.f. agent has come forward. >> reporter: south of el paso on mexico's side of the border lies juarez. >> juarez has been the most dangerous city in the world. >> reporter: it's where a.t.f. special agent rene jaquez worked for the past year. that's him before he shaved his head working with mexican police you were concerned a lot with
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trying to keep u.s. guns from being trafficked into mexico. >> absolutely. i mean, that's what we do as an agency. >> reporter: that's why jaquez says he was so alarmed to hear his own agency may have done the opposite-- encouraged u.s. gun dealers to sell to suspected traffickers from mexico's drug cartels. apparently a.t.f. hoped they'd let guns walk to see where they ended up and help them take down the cartel. jaquez is so opposed to the strategy he's speaking out. >> you don't let guns walk. i've never let a gun walk. >> reporter: yet a.t.f. agents told us they were ordered to let thousands of weapons walk, including assault rifles later found at the murder of border patrol agent brian terry and mexican crime scenes. >> i think this instance is probably one of the darkest days in a.t.f.'s history. >> reporter: but a.t.f. wasn't working alone. documents show conference calls with d.h.s.-- homeland security- - u.s.m.s.-- u.s. marshals-- and d.e.a. and ice, or customs agent was on
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a.t.f.'s team, they were advised by the assistant u.s. attorney under the justice department. justice department head eric holder says the inspector general is investigating. >> we cannot have a situation where guns are allowed to walk. >> reporter: you have families who live in mexico. >> i have family, uncles, aunts, my father and my sister. >> you could have been shot with one of those guns. >> yes, any one of us could have been shot with one of those guns. >> reporter: jaquez says he's left wondering whether runaway violence in the mexican city where he lives and works can be partly blamed on the agency tasked with stopping it. sharyl attkisson, cbs news, washington. [ woman ] we take it a day at a time.
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>> couric: the government put out new safety guidelines today that say children should ride in rear-facing car seats until they are two. previously the recommendation was 12 months. recent studies have shown this can reduce the risk of neck and spinal cord injuries in a crash. the government also says children should ride in the backseat until age 13. in san francisco, a different kind of opening day for barry bonds. his perjury trial opened in federal court. the home run king is charged with lying to a grand jury when he denied that he knowingly took performance-enhancing drugs. bonds, who is 46, could get up to 30 years if convicted. meanwhile, tests are being done in germany to find out what killed the world's most famous polar bear. new video shows knut spinning around before he collapsed and
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died at the berlin zoo on saturday. most polar bears can live up to 20 years, but knut was just four. he shot to stardom as a cub after he was abandoned by his mother and raised by zoo keepers. coming up next, an american city devastated by the disaster in japan. i switched to a complete multivitamin with more. only one a day women's 50+ advantage has gingko for memory and concentration plus support for bone and breast health. a great addition to my routine. [ female announcer ] one a day women's. today we're going to surprise people with the taste of activia.
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unique role show biz has pld in his career. next on cbs 5 >> couric: finally tonight, americans have watched with horror and sadness the disaster in japan as towns like sendai were devastated. but perhaps no u.s. city was as touched by the disaster as dallas. you see, dallas and sendai have become the best of friends. steve hartman now with tonight's "assignment america." >> reporter: we came here to dallas-- about as far from japan as you can get-- to meet the berries, who are about as asian as apple pie, and do a story about this typical texas family and its very atypical attachment to one japanese community. 50-year-old mark berry says when he saw that tsunami hit the town of sendai it was like watching it roll through his own backyard. >> i see that wave coming
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through just tearing those houses down, god, that hurts me almost as if i was there. >> reporter: mark got to know the people of sendai because the two towns are international friendship cities. dallas kids go there on exchanges, sendai kids come here. mark is chairman of the committee and has made nine trips to sendai. >> pretty much sure this is all gone. >> reporter: he has toured the local shrines and visited local high schools. >> gone. gone. >> reporter: in the last week he's been trying to track down friends in sendai with mixed results. for example, there were ten kids who came to dallas in the last exchange. six are accounted for and four are not: >> i kind of feel like in this case no news is bad news. that's what i'm feeling. >> reporter: his pain really shows the power of these sister city type relationships. how they make neighbors out of people who might otherwise say they couldn't care less. >> we didn't call them japanese,
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we called them japs. >> reporter: mark's 82-year-old father never even knew a japanese person until mark started bringing his visitors around. >> the ones that i met i learned to love in just a very short period of time. i personally feel an obligation to help the people of sendai over there. >> reporter: to that end, the dallas-japan america society teamed up with their local cbs afiliate to do a phone-a-thon on this and other sister cities in america are doing the same proving once again that if you really want to be someone who values humanity, the best thing you can do is meet a lot of different humans. interesting. the united states has more sister cities in japan than any other country: 188 in all. i think a lot of that started after world war ii. >> couric: interesting. and a nice story. thank you so much, steve. and that's the "cbs evening news" for tonight. i'm katie couric. thank you for watching. i'll see you back here tomorrow. good night. captioning sponsored by cbs
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. you're watching cbs 5 eyewitness news in high definition. >> are you a giants fan? that and other questions thrown at potential jurors as the barry bonds perjury trial finally gets underway. three and a half years after the assassination of an oakland journalists the trial begins for the man who order the death of chauncy bailey. >> and the mortgage meltdown, why there is more bad news out of contra costa. >> good evening i'm allen martin. >> and i'm dana king. the barry bonds perjury charges trial got underway. one thing that has not changed is bonds' celebrity, especially in a city that is home to the world ri


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